STORM, Rory  [Alan Ernest Campbell]   [1838-1972]

As the 1950’s gave way to what would become known as the ‘swinging sixties, and the Beatles were heading off to Hamburg to hone their craft, Liverpool was awash with ‘pop’ groups. Each had their loyal following, but by common assent the city’s top band was Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. In his excellent book, Liverpool Wondrous Place, music journalist Paul du Noyer offers this description of the band’s leader

“a flamboyant Teddy Boy, he had a vast blond quiff that he would ostentatiously comb on stage: in old black-and-white photographs he seems to be built entirely of silver. He was an athletic man, a natural extrovert, given to daredevil stage leaps…..He’d wave the mike around and, strangely, pour lemonade over himself”.

In a decade which saw so many young Liverpudlians skyrocket to stardom Rory Storm’s story is a sad one, showing the microscopically thin line which sits between fame and failure.

He was born Alan Ernest Caldwell on 7th January 1938, the son of Ernest ‘Ernie’ George W Caldwell and his wife Violet, née Disley. The family lived at 54 Broadgreen Road L13 and this would remain his home for the rest of his life. Untypically for an aspiring rock star, he was a very sporty young man, running for Pembroke Harriers, playing football regularly and proving himself a more than capable swimmer and skater. He formed his first band in 1938, naming them Al Caldwell’s Texans (after a brief life as Dracula and the Werewolves). The backing band was soon established as the Hurricanes and their leader would morph from Al Storm to Jet Strom and finally Rory Storm. The personnel would change but more or less settled by the time he introduced his new drummer, Richie ‘Ringo’ Starkey, at the Mardi Gras on 25th March 1959. Over the next few years they combined appearances across Liverpool with spells in Hamburg and at Butlins holiday camp at Pwllheli in North Wales. As has been recounted many times in August 1962 Ringo Starr was persuaded to leave the Hurricanes and join the Beatles.

When the Beatles were first forming there can be no doubt that Rory Storm was the big personality on the Liverpool music scene. However, as they hit the heights in a whirlwind of number one hits, films and foreign tours, Storm’s fame would remain locked in the confines of his home city. He released a few singles, assisted in some cases by Brian Epstein, but they failed to sell. On the night in 1965 that the Beatles opened at the Shea Stadium, Rory Storm was playing the Orrell Park Ballroom.

He disbanded the group in 1967 and became a disc jockey, also spending time in Benidorm as a water-ski instructor. He was working in Amsterdam in 1972 when his father died and he returned to Liverpool to support his mother. Suffering from a chest infection he was taking medication to help him sleep. On 28th September 1972 both he and his mother were found dead at their Broadgreen home. Post-mortems revealed that both of them had alcohol and sleeping pills in their blood, but no conclusions were drawn and the deaths were ruled accidental. Many have drawn the conclusion that Storm’s mother committed suicide when she found him dead.

Rory Storm’s sister, Iris, also has her music connections. Her first kiss on a date was with Beatle George Harrison and she later dated Paul McCartney. She married Bernard Jewry, who recorded in the sixties as Shane Fenton and was reinvented in the seventies as Alvin Stardust.

54 Broadgreen Road L13

Rory Storm's family home.

Rory Storm and his mother Violet

Photo of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with Richie 'Ringo' Starr on far right.


The Wikipedia entry for Rory Storm is quite comprehensive. He generally appears in the countless books that have been written about the Beatles but I am unaware of any substantial work dedicated to his own story. There is a nice video of him singing at The Cavern on YouTube.